TheatreSquared deal gets Fayetteville council approval
by Dan Holtmeyer
FAYETTEVILLE — June 8, 2016 — TheatreSquared officially has the space for its new downtown home after a City Council vote Tuesday. Now it just needs to build it.
The council voted 6-0 with two members absent to approve a renewable 25-year lease letting the nonprofit theater company build on the city-owned parking lot at Spring Street and West Avenue. In return, the company guarantees it'll construct the building and use it to provide high-quality shows, free tickets for Fayetteville students and other benefits for the area.
"We've grown from an idea to a nationally recognized organization," TheatreSquared artistic director Bob Ford told the council, thanking them for allowing the lease. "We are sincerely, sincerely grateful." …
TheatreSquared now leases space in Nadine Baum Studios across West Avenue from the parking lot. But its shop and offices are off-site, and Ford said yearly attendance has grown to more than 40,000. A 51,000-square-foot structure on the lot will give plenty of space for those needs, possibly a cafe or restaurant and more, executive director Martin Miller said.
Instead of a venue that shuts its doors after each performance, "we'd rather have public spaces that are accessible all day," Miller said Tuesday.
The council cleared the lease without much discussion, with Alderman Justin Tennant of Ward 3 saying the project will be "very, very special for our downtown." Mayor Lioneld Jordan said TheatreSquared and the neighboring Walton Arts Center could create an "arts campus" on Dickson Street.
TheatreSquared hired London-based theater planning firm Charcoalblue and New York-based Marvel Architects to design its home with support from the Walton Family Foundation. The final designs and fundraising details should be ready to share by late this year, Ford said.